Thirty-five years after Friday the 13th hit theaters and became a box office success, Adrienne King still thinks it’s “pretty damn cool” that we want to ask her about her role as Alice Hardy, the one camp counselor who escaped the wrath of Pamela Voorhees. Why wouldn’t we want to talk about that iconic role? After all, King’s legacy is that of the “First Final Girl” or “Sole Survivor,” and she’s certainly one of the horror genre’s greatest Scream Queens. She even sells a variety of wines that are named for the summer camp that Alice barely escaped.
As she and the cast and crew of Friday the 13th recently explained to us, they never thought that this was something that would define them as actors or establish them as genre icons, but it did, and with that fame came King’s opportunity to forever wear her crown and be introduced by many titles to her legion of loyal fans. However, that fame also brought about an unexpected element of terror in King’s life, as she was unable to celebrate the amazing success of Friday the 13th after its release on May 9, 1980, because of a real-life stalker who followed her as far as London to threaten her, simply because she reminded him of someone who once wronged him. It could have been ironic if it hadn’t been so horrifying.
However, unlike recent high profile threats with celebrities like Sandra Bullock and Ariana Grande, King’s stalker situation occurred in an era when law enforcement simply didn’t take it seriously. As King told us, prior to Rebecca Schaeffer’s murder in 1989, the idea of celebrity stalkers was almost a joke to the people who should have protected King when she needed them most. Amazingly, 35 years later, King has turned her own scary story into a source of inspiration for people of all ages.
For a year and a half, we didn’t know who the stalker was. You have to remember there were no video cameras, no security cameras around, no cell phones. I would get very bizarre things. I would get, for instance, Polaroids under my door of what I had been doing the day before or the night before in a Chinese or Italian menu. It was New York City, I was in a doorman building. It’s very freaky. The guy was not a “horror fan.” He just happened to have seen the movie with some friends, because everyone was seeing it. And when we eventually figured out who it was, it had nothing to do with whether I lived or died or anything. It had to do with the fact that I reminded him of someone in his past who had done something horrible to him. Very bizarre. Very strange.
You know that story about Sandra Bullock in the closet? She had a stalker and she’s in court right now. I was watching the news when they played her 9-1-1 call. I lived in Marina Del Ray at my sister’s house when this happened to me and I was literally calling the cops from inside my sister’s closet. We’ve come a long way in the world of just validating women and their right to choose the film roles they want and not be judged. The cops would say, “Well, what would you expect? Look at the movie you did.”
One question that King has heard a lot over the years, including from us, is: “Why did Alice die in 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2?” Her character was able to make it out of Camp Crystal Lake in the first film after lopping Mrs. Voorhees’ head off, so why did Alice have to meet her maker in the beginning of the second film? It’s a complicated answer, because as King has reminded people in the past, Alice’s death actually came in a nightmare — “a nightmare within a nightmare” — so the character was never actually killed. But King’s role in the sequel was also minimized because of what she had been going through with her stalker.
The reason my character died was, we had a meeting about it, because when Part 2 had come, a stalker was already present in my world. I couldn’t handle doing another film and dealing with what no one else seemed to want to deal with. It was worse because we didn’t know who the stalker was and it was drawn out and this person was so brilliant. Stalkers can be brilliant, they can have a lot of money, and they can have a lot of contacts politically. Stalkers are not necessarily homeless bums who are penniless. So, just think about that if you have someone who wants to take you down, and they got the ammunition to do it, you could be as strong as you want and still go down. I first ran away to Los Angeles and he followed me, so I ran away to London.
It really kind of spun me into a very weird place. As an artist my art went very, very dark. Actually, the collectible art of mine right now, because it was my salvation, it was what I turned to because no one back then talked about. My agents were all like, “Shhh, don’t talk about it, they’ll think you’re nuts. Don’t tell anyone. That would be terrible if they knew you were being stalked.” What I ended up doing was I auditioned for the The Royal Academy in London and they took me, God bless them, and that’s why London is my second home. Interestingly enough, my art is in galleries there and does incredibly well.